THE Roman Catholic Church claims that Apostle Peter is the “rock” where Christ built His Church or the "rock foundation" of the one true Church of Christ:
“Christ used Peter for the rock foundation of His Church. The Catholic Church still rests on that same foundation.” (Conway, J.D. What They Ask About The Church, p. 11)
The Bible truly teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ established His Church on a "rock." Matthew 16:18 reads:
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 NKJV)
“Apostolic succession” is the primary basis of the Roman Catholic Church in claiming that they are the one true Church the Lord Jesus Christ built. They claim that Apostle Peter is the "rock foundation" where Christ buitt His Church because they claim that their "pope" is the successor of Apostle Peter. Thus, their argument goes, “The Roman Catholic pope is the successor of Apostle Peter who was the rock where Jesus built His Church. So, the Roman Catholic Church is the one true Church built by the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Therefore, refuting the Roman Catholic Church's claim that Apostle Peter is the "rock" mentioned in Matthew 16:18 also refutes their claim that they are the the one true Church the Lord Jesus Christ built.
How do they claim that Apostle Peter is the "rock" mentioned in Matthew 16:18? They say that the name "Peter" and the word "rock" is the same in Greek. However, a careful study of the Greek text of Matthew 16:18 clearly shows that Apostle Peter is not the "rock" where the one true Church was built.
WHAT IS “PETER” IN GREEK?
The English word “Peter” was derived from a Greek word which is equivalent of the Aramaic word “Kefas” (rendered “Cephas” in English). This was the name given to Simon, brother of Andrew, by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. John 1:42 in New International Version reads:
“And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas’ (which, when translated, is Peter).” (John 1:42 NIV)
The name “Cephas” is Aramaic, while the name “Peter” is English. What is the equivalent of this name in Greek? Let us see the Greek text of John 1:42:
“egagen autón prós tón Iesoún. emblépsas auto ho Iesoús eípen: sú eí Símœn ho huiós Ioánnou, sú klethese Kefás, hó hermeneúetai Pétros.” (John 1:42 NA27, transliterated)
Take note that the Greek equivalent of the Aramaic word “Cephas” given by the New Testament itself is “Pétros.” Thus, the English word “Peter” was derived from the Greek word “Pétros.”
THE “ROCK” MENTIONED IN MATTHEW 16:18
The Lord Jesus Christ explicitly said in Matthew 16:18, “upon this rock I will build My Church.” What is the equivalent in Greek of the word “rock” mentioned by the Lord Jesus Christ where He built His Church? The Greek text of Matthew 16:18 reads:
“kago dé soi légœ hóti sú eí Pétros, kaí epí taúte te pétra oikodomeso mou ten ekklesían kaí púlai hádou ou katischúsousin autes.” (Matthew 16:18 NA27, transliterated)
This was rendered in English as:
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18 NIV)
It is clear in the Greek text of Matthew 16:18 that the name “Peter” is “Pétros” in Greek, and the word “rock” is “pétra” in Greek.
“PETROS” AND “PETRA” ARE TWO DIFFERENT WORDS WITH DIFFERENT MEANINGS
Why do we say that “Pétros” and “pétra” are two different words? Zodhiates' Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament explains:
“Distinguished from the masculine petros is that petra is a mass of rock while petros is a detached stone or boulder, a stone that might be thrown or easily moved.”
“Pétros” is masculine and it means “a detached stone or boulder, a stone that might be thrown or easily moved.” However, “pétra” is feminine and it means “a mass of rock.” Truly, the Greek words “Petros” and “petra” are two different words.
PETER IS “PETROS,” THUS HE IS NOT THE ROCK(“PETRA”) WHERE CHRIST BUILT HIS CHURCH
Because “Petros” is masculine and “petra is feminine, and “Petros” means “a detached stone of boulder, a stone that might be thrown or easily moved” while “petra” means “a mass of rock,” thus, Matthew 16:18 only means:
“And I tell you that you are “Petros” (“a detached stone of boulder, a stone that might be thrown or easily moved”), and on this “petra” (“a mass of rock”) I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
In light of these facts, when the Lord Jesus Christ said “on this ROCK (“petra”) I will build My Church”, He is not referring to Peter (“Petros”).
THE “ROCK” WHERE THE CHURCH WAS BUILT IS THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
Apostle Paul explicitly declared that the Lord Jesus Christ is the “chief cornerstone”:
“Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” (Ephesians 2:20 NKJV)
According to Apostle Peter himself, who is the “rock” upon the Church was built? This is what he explicitly said in Acts 4:10-11:
“Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'” (Acts 4:10-11 NKJV)
Apostle Peter testified that the Lord Jesus Christ is the “chief cornerstone.” He also said, “...Jesus Christ of Nazareth...This is the stone...”
Thus, it is very clear that Apostle Paul and Apostle Peter testified that the Lord Jesus Christ is the rock or the chief cornerstone where the Church was built.
PETER HIMSELF USED THE WORD “PETRA’ TO REFER TO JESUS
Apostle Peter himself used the word “petra” referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. In I Peter 2:4-8, Apostle Peter said:
“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.” (I Peter 2:4-8 NKJV)
In the Greek text of I Peter 2:8, it is clear that Apostle Peter used the word “petra”:
“kaí líthos proskómmatos kaí pétra skandálou: hoí proskóptousin to lógo apeithoúntes eis hó kaí etéthesan.” (I Peter 2:8 NA37 Transliterated)
Remember that the word “rock” mentioned by Apostle Peter in I Peter 2:8 is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, Apostle Peter used the word “pétra” referring to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The one true Church was built on Christ. He Himself is the “rock” where the true Church Of Christ was built. The doctrine that Apostle Peter was the “rock” where the Church was built was indeed an erroneous doctrine because Apostle Peter himself testified that the Lord Jesus Christ is the “rock” where the Church was built. Thus, we can conclude that the Roman Catholic Church is built upon an erroneous doctrine.